Have a question? We have an answer.
NIIC Fast Facts
WHEN WAS THE NIIC ESTABLISHED?
The NIIC was founded as a nonprofit organization in December 1999. Temporary offices were established at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce in October 2000. In August of 2001, The NIIC’s first campus at the Raytheon Building on Production Road became fully operational.
WHO FOUNDED THE NIIC?
The NIIC was formed through a collaboration of the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County, the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, and Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne (IPFW).
HOW DID THE NIIC GET STARTED AS AN ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY?
In the early 1990s, The NIIC’s founding Board Chair, Dr. Mike Mirro, commissioned several task forces to examine community-based economic development strategies for Northeast Indiana and the Greater Ft. Wayne Area.
After many years of examining what other successful communities across the U.S. were doing to diversify their economic base, leverage their local assets and retain their talented and creative class, two significant economic development recommendations were made.
The first recommendation was the formation of the Ft. Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance to serve as the community’s front door for retention and expansion activities. The legal entity was formed in August 1999.
The second recommendation was the formation of a business incubator to foster an entrepreneurial culture and spirit in the region. The legal entity of the non-profit organization was formed in December 1999 and was named the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC).
The initial founding members of The NIIC were: City of Ft. Wayne, Allen County, Greater Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce, and IPFW. In October 2000, the hard work and the dedication of the task force was realized by the recruitment and hiring of the first professional staff member of The NIIC. From October 2000 to August 2001, The NIIC was housed in the Greater Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce until a temporary incubator was established and opened in August 2001 on Production Road in Ft. Wayne due to the generosity and leadership of Raytheon Corporation.
From October 2000 to August 2001, The NIIC was housed in the Greater Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce until a temporary incubator was established and opened in August 2001 on Production Road in Ft. Wayne thanks to the generosity and leadership of Raytheon Corporation.
From August 2001 to September 2005, there were five space expansions to accommodate the growth, development, and maturation of the business incubation program. Due to the leadership of Senator Bob Meeks and the Northeast Indiana delegation, The NIIC constructed the first of two facilities on its 55-acre certified technology park campus.
The first facility, a 40,403 square feet business incubator opened in September 2005, and in November 2009, a second 33,000 square feet emerging growth center opened for second stage and graduate ventures.
Today, nearly 200 knowledge workers and over 45 companies call The NIIC their home and headquarters along the educational and high tech corridor of Northeast Indiana.
Programs & Services
WHAT IS ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION?
The NIIC offers an experientially-based Student Venture Lab program and Discovering Entrepreneurship Workshop to inspire young adults in learning entrepreneurial mindsets and soft skill development.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Opportunity recognition
- Mobilizing resources
- Starting a business
- Discovering your consumer market
- Constructing a viable business model
- Facing and overcoming adversity
DOES THE NIIC WORK WITH EXISTING BUSINESSES?
Of course. The NIIC will work with existing businesses that have recognized the need for the development of entrepreneurial endeavors, growth imperatives, and innovation initiatives within their organizations.
We also work to enhance the creative and innovative potential of individuals, companies and their environments through entrepreneurial/business development/corporate innovation for faster-growing companies.
Client Selection & Admission
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A CLIENT OF THE NIIC?
You are among the smart and confident entrepreneurs who know how to capitalize on every opportunity. Being part of The NIIC is being a part of an entrepreneurial community who is interested and supportive of your ups and downs.
Common traits of our clients include, but aren’t limited to:
- Possess a great idea with strong commercialization potential
- Driven to attain entrepreneurial excellence
- Have a support group of outside advisors – preferably with previous entrepreneurial experience
- Willingness to seek and act on professional advice and guidance
- A high potential for sustained job creation and area economic development
- Knowledge-oriented business plan
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A CLIENT OF THE NIIC?
Our residents shared the following benefits of their experience with us:
- Faster ramp-up to launch of your business
- A stronger, more credible viable business model with customer validation
- More likelihood of venture access to capital due to our credibility and track record
- Ability to work closely with seasoned and experienced entrepreneurial coaches interested only in you and your venture. We are an adjunct to your management team.
- Entrepreneurs appreciate most about us that we work at the speed of business – your efforts will be intensive, focused and lead to high levels of accountability and results
- To be nestled into a community of likeminded entrepreneurial believers and business builders changing the world. The NIIC houses the largest number of startups in Northeast Indiana
To learn more about the benefits of The NIIC, check out the four pillars of entrepreneurial success here.
WHO ARE YOUR CLIENTS?
The NIIC works with interested and motivated business builders, founders and their teams from various profit and nonprofit sectors. It’s only The NIIC’s business incubation program that has admission criteria. Within our certified tech park, The NIIC works with companies in the twelve areas of high tech activities defined by Indiana State Statute.
These areas of innovation include, but are not limited to:
- DATA COMMUNICATIONS, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES AND ADVANCED COMPUTING. All activities related to the design and development of computer hardware and software.
- BIOSCIENCES, BIOTECHNOLOGY, LIFE SCIENCES, AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Activities that utilize living organisms or substances from living things to develop or modify a product, improve plants or animals or developing microorganisms for useful products, medical devices and instruments. Biotechnology does not include human cloning or embryonic stem cell research.
- MEDICAL DEVICE TECHNOLOGY. All activities that include medical equipment technology or products, excluding pharmaceuticals, that have therapeutic and/or diagnostic value and are subject to regulation.
- ADVANCED MATERIALS. Utilizing materials with engineered properties based on specialized processes and synthesized technology.
- ELECTRONIC DEVICE TECHNOLOGY. Includes technology involving microelectronics, semiconductors or electronic equipment, such as, instrumentation, radio frequency, microwave and millimeter electronics. Also includes optical and optic-electrical devices and data and digital communications and imaging devices.
- ENGINEERING OR LABORATORY TESTING. Relating to the development of an advanced manufacturing product, technology or process.
- TECHNOLOGY THAT ASSISTS IN THE ASSESSMENT AND PREVENTION OF THREATS OR DAMAGE TO HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT. All activities that include environmental cleanup technology, pollution prevention or the development of alternative energy sources.
- PROTOTYPING, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF ADVANCED MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS.
- ADVANCED VEHICLES TECHNOLOGY. All activities that include technology and components related to electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles.
- APPLICATIONS. Web, mobile, gaming, web communities, ecommerce, social networks, cloud computing and more.
- ORTHOPEDICS. Implants, instruments, services, medical regulatory compliance services and medical information technology.
- GREEN TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES. Including environmental technologies and services.
If your idea doesn’t pertain to the sectors listed, The NIIC offers other entrepreneurial programs and services to address business support and commercialization assistance.
WHAT IF MY COMPANY IS NOT IN ONE OF THE NIIC’S FOCUSED INDUSTRIES OR HIGH-TECH SECTORS?
Our affiliate programs make entrepreneurial and business venture training, coaching and education available to a wide range of industries on a non-resident basis. The NIIC has a broad network of other business development and support resources to which aspiring companies can be referred.
Our knowledge of and close working relationships with business resources and other developmental organizations, as well as our close ties to the region’s educational community, make The NIIC a one stop shop for new venture resources, capital access, and business best practices, whatever your industry, interests, or stage of development.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSIONS CRITERIA FOR THE BUSINESS INCUBATION PROGRAM?
- COACHABILITY. Self-aware and willing to ask, and receive, help from The NIIC’s trusted advisors and attend our training and workshop seminars.
- NEED FOR SPECIFIC SERVICES WE OFFER. You should have a need in at least one of the four entrepreneurial success pillars, and/or have successfully completed our affiliate program with a validated business model.
- IMPACT ON THE BROADER COMMUNITY ECOSYSTEM. Synergy, likely collaboration with other clients and integration to broader ED strategies for the community at large.
- LIKELY TO CREATE JOBS OVER NEXT 18-36 MONTHS. Entry-level, at or above an average of $40,000 per job during your residency at The NIIC.
- STRENGTH OF TEAM. Must have at least one full-time employee committed to your venture who has previous startup experience and domain expertise.
- POSITIVE/NEUTRAL CASH FLOW. Founders can self-fund their business venture for a minimum of three-to-six months of a burn rate.
Additional business case support:
- Defensible IP (strategy and claims)
- Competitive/unfair advantages
- Attractive industry structure and dynamics (e.g., market size, growth rates and price attractiveness)
- Clear plan for solving pain problems in the marketplace
- Strength of collaborations/partnerships (e.g., co-development agreements, sales/channel agreements, etc.)
WHAT OTHER BUSINESSES ARE PERMITTED IN THE BUSINESS INCUBATION PROGRAM?
Typically, The NIIC allows 15% of its total gross square footage to synergistic activities. These include strategic partnerships and alliances with educational institutions and service providers who provide services directly beneficial to our client mix (legal, financial, marketing, banking etc.). In addition, The NIIC offers professional office space and amenities at its Innovation Village @ College Park.
WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE NOT PERMITTED AT THE NIIC?
Heavy manufacturing and loud noise businesses are not permitted. The NIIC suggests separating research and development and head office when it’s clear that the production activities leading from R&D efforts involve more than pre-production units.
Office Leasing Services
DOES THE NIIC TAKE A PERCENTAGE OF YOUR REVENUE AS PART OF THE SERVICES IT OFFERS TO CLIENTS?
The NIIC does not take a percentage of revenue, royalty fee, own your Intellectual Property (IP), or take an equity position in exchange for the services (space, coaching, commercialization services) it offers and provides as part of its client program fee.
If The NIIC becomes a financial investor in your company, it will negotiate a term sheet or deal structure that might include a revenue share, a priced equity agreement or a debt instrument (potentially with collateral or asset assignments) as part of its cash infusion in the company in a similar fashion to an angel or early stage investor.
DOES A CLIENT COMPANY GIVE UP EQUITY OR OWNERSHIP OF THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TO ENTER THE NIIC?
Unlike most university and for-profit business incubation and acceleration programs, The NIIC does not take equity or any ownership interest in your patents. If The NIIC invests in your company through its LEAP Fund, The NIIC does enter into priced equity, convertible debenture and revenue participation agreements in exchange for a cash investment.
HOW MUCH SPACE IS AVAILABLE FOR MY BUSINESS?
The NIIC has flexible space to meet the demands of one-person businesses and 80-person businesses. Clients can scale from a single-person office of 120 sq. ft. up to over 10,000 of contiguous square footage in our Emerging Growth Center.
Additionally, The NIIC has a 55- acre campus and can custom build to suit appropriate state-of-the-art workplaces for innovative and knowledge-based companies.
WHAT IS THE PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT FOR OFFICE SPACE?
Because The NIIC lease arrangements are “packages,” including many shared services, programs and amenities beyond simple office space, The NIIC does not define leases in terms of square footage rates.
The Emerging Growth Center charges market rates for square footage based on lease term, build-outs/leasehold improvements and other tenant-specific requirements for the space.
All other facility space charges an all-inclusive program fee based on size of office and term of use.
DOES THE RENTAL PRICE INCLUDE UTILITIES?
Yes, The NIIC lease covers utilities — water, electricity, gas, and sewage disposal — so long as clients don’t misuse their privilege.
If a client has demonstrable, independent need of additional utility services beyond those provided by The NIIC, arrangements will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with installation and service charges being the responsibility of the client in most cases.
CAN A CLIENT STAY AT THE NIIC AS LONG AS THEY PAY PROGRAM FEES?
Typically, clients stay in the business incubation program for an average of four-to-five years. However, if the client is in a highly regulatory, capital intensive or require substantial third party investments, clients in good standing may stay until they achieve a sustainable cash flow and meet the requirement of being financially viable and freestanding where the risk of returning to the business incubation program is remote.
Clients engaged in other NIIC campus entrepreneurial programs- Emerging Growth Center, affiliate coaching, accelerator, coworking flex spaces, and build to suit offices engage in more traditional building leases. These clients do not have to be resident clients of the business incubation program to apply for these other entrepreneurial programs.
UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU TERMINATE THE PROGRAM SERVICE FEE ARRANGEMENT?
The NIIC program service fee agreements are non-terminable leases. Longer lease terms provide lower fee options. Clients should select carefully based on their circumstances, and The NIIC offers a variety of options to fit every entrepreneur and their budget.
- In the business incubation program, The NIIC offers one and two-year program service fee arrangements.
- In the flex-space membership program options, prospective clients have a six-month and one-year option.
- In the Emerging Growth Center, prospective clients have a three to ten-year lease option with renewables. Additional, financial and corporate guarantees might be required.
- In the Innovation Village @ College Park, prospective clients have a one-year with renewable one-year terms.
CAN MY LEASE RATE GO DOWN IF I SUPPLY MY OWN FURNITURE?
Clients may provide their own furniture or use furniture supplied by The NIIC. If an office is furnished, the cost of reconfiguration, additional furniture or office layout changes will be charged to the client. The office suites are furnished as is, and there are no lease rate reductions for lack of office furniture in a suite.
Community Resources & Partners
HOW DOES THE NIIC DIFFER FROM OTHER RESOURCES WE ALREADY HAVE IN THE REGION SUCH AS, THE SBDC AND SCORE?
The NIIC is designed to meet the need, for higher-level, complex needs, including product development, marketing, gap financing, research and entrepreneurial strategy, through the vehicles of entrepreneurship education, experiential learning/growth and consulting.
While many business incubators are direct programs of specific colleges and universities, The NIIC has affiliations and cooperative relationships with almost every educational facility in Northeast Indiana, including:
- Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW, and one of The NIIC’s founding organizations; the new IU School of Medicine Regional Campus is just west of The NIIC’s own campus)
- Taylor University (whose MBA and online education program is housed in The NIIC)
- Ivy Tech (whose 167,000 sq. ft. Technology Center is adjacent to The NIIC campus and offers 3D modeling, prototyping and CAD services)
- Huntington University (whose partners with the NIIC on its Fast Forward Entrepreneurial initiative)
- University of Saint Francis
- Southwest Allen County Schools, home school programs, parochial programs and many other city and county school districts throughout the region
The NIIC and other regional entrepreneurial resource partners refer clients to one another based on each organization’s core competencies and capabilities. It’s the intent of major entrepreneurial support providers to serve and meet the entrepreneur where we find him or her.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE NIIC?
The NIIC is rocket fuel for great ideas, people and companies.
We are a catalyst for:
- Fostering the commercialization of technology to create new jobs, companies and industries employing Indiana residents
- Developing and retaining local, regional and statewide talent
- Expanding experiential entrepreneurship education and achievement at 9th grade and above
- Enhancing and expanding access to capital resources for business formation and new venture support